I was comfortable moving to Shanghai in 2005 because I knew I had work there. Selling machines from Europe to China. Eventually, in 2006, we build up a partnership with the italian company Sinico S.p.A. - they produce tube processing automation machines. Machines, that cut long tubes in small parts and make them ready for use with operations such as facing and chamfering. These machines are great for the chinese market, since they replace manual labor, and manual labor has horrible accuracy and speed.
So, in the first year, we spend most of the time searching for potential customers, as it is normal. We collected all the customers, we traveled to them and introduced our machine, we spend a lot of time and money for Sinico. We, that was my colleague Nick Zhang (张红军), and myself. Nick was already working for my father’s company when I moved to Shanghai. Before joining my fathers company, he was teaching english in schools. Originally he is from the Henan province, but he moved around China before settling down in Shanghai.
Anyway, in September 2007, we finally signed the first contract. A big customer in the north decided to buy one of Sinicos machines. What a relief that day was! Even Sinicos big boss, Alessandro Sinico himself, flew in to China to sign the contract with the customer directly. Or so it seemed. Little did I know back then...
Actually, Mister Sinico flew to China to discuss with Mister Zhang how to get rid of us. Cut out the middle man. Mister Sinico pursued Mister Zhang to quit working for us and to work directly for Sinico. Back then, I was good friends with Mister Zhang. Hell, I even went to his daughters birthday once or twice. I never thought that someone so close would ever cheat on me.
But he did. And Sinico did. Nick quit his job all of a sudden, left our company with a one week warning - hey, this is China I thought, what can you do - and started working for Sinico. So, Nick stabbed us in the back. We paid that guy over two years a salary that was probably four or five times higher than his teaching job, we taught him about machines, we gave his family food and he slowly became part of our family company. And then, ice cold, he turns his back on us. Horrible.
And Sinico! They used up over half of our daily time for over a year - we didn’t get a salary from them, we worked on our own cost for them, as agents. And until today, July 21st 2008, they still haven’t paid us our commission for our very first sale. Unbelievable. We also invested over 3.000 Euro into catalogues. They kept them, and promised us to pay this money back. How much did we get back until now, almost a year later? None! They suck out our time and money, then we actually open the market for them, and now they don’t even have the decency to pay us at least the commission we earned with hard work. What is wrong with these people?
Last week we learned from a customer, that Mister Zhang is now even traveling around China and telling everyone how bad we are and that nobody should buy machines from us. This is really weird. It’s not enough to cheat us with money and partnerships, but now they also try to make us look bad in front of customers. Great.
Business is tough and full of bad apples. But sometimes I wonder how these people can sleep at night. How can they get up in the morning, smile at their wife's and children and look at themselves in the mirror?